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TV Analysis: Weighing in on Chopped

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Last night, the Food Network's new strange Top Chef/Iron Chef mashup Chopped made its big debut, and let's just say you're much much better off watching one of the two shows that inspired it. The premise: four contestants from mostly B-level restaurants prepare three courses with mystery items in a basket. After each course, a contestant is "chopped." A dry Ted Allen hosts while real chefs Marc Murphy, Alex Guarnaschelli, and Aaron Sanchez judge.

Some immediate fails: 1) Unlike Top Chef, it's hard to get attached to or root for a contestant. 2) And unlike Iron Chef these dishes aren't really wowing anybody, least of all the viewers. 3) One of the cheftestants last night was a vegetarian/vegan chef. 4) Three out of the four contestants had never cooked octopus (a mystery protein).

That said, seeing people get "chopped" is mildly entertaining. And props to an all New York cast of judges. She doesn't deserve much more analysis, but there are quite a few bloggers who would like to chime in with their critiques:

Ed Levine and his Serious Eats kiddies were not impressed:

Ed: I want to care more about these people, can't someone say something funny or bitchy or edgy? Everyone is so nice on the show—maybe too nice
Alaina: I can't tell if it's the editing or the production, but the show seems to be missing a little pizzaz
Alaina: It's a weird top Chef/Iron Chef hybrid
Ed: I long for some drama, some tension, something to keep me awake
Eat Me Daily is even less amused:
"Chopped isn't just a ripoff of Top Chef — it's a cheap, maddening ripoff of Top Chef. We can only imagine the producers sitting in a room, trying to come up with enough subtle modifications so that it wouldn't be an exact ripoff of the established hit show. Ted Allen, as host, was dry and mechanical, simply going through the paces, and the production quality was pretty high (as far as the Food Network goes), but still nowhere near Bravo's..."
Luckily, TONY gives it some love:
"No question, Chopped! is a very entertaining show, and there’s a refreshing awkwardness about it; the chefs are less comfortable in front of the camera—it feels more realistic. True to Ted Allen’s promise, the focus was on the cooking. There were no “make edible pajamas for Padma to wear to a slumberparty with Gail and Martha Stewart” challenges."
· 'Chopped' Season Premiere Rechat [SE]
· Review: The Premiere Episode of Food Network's Chopped [EMD]
· Chopped!: The historic first recap [The Feed]
· All Chopped Coverage [~E~]

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